Friday, May 29, 2009

Open letter to the Prime Minister from an anonymous Singaporean:

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing as a concerned Singaporean and a mother to request official scrutiny into press reporting of the AWARE saga.

I'll share my first-person observations at the AWARE EGM in relation to Straits Times coverage of the event.

1) My 18-year-old daughter and I went to the AWARE EGM on Saturday, 2 May 2009, to observe the proceedings of a civil organisation but the progression of events left us with much disquiet.

a) We noticed a large contingent of men upon entering the meeting hall as we were directed to the "overflow area" in Hall 403 where we sat in the front portion (we were among the last 200 to enter at 2.50pm after queuing from 1.30pm). The men formed about a quarter of the meeting, occupying seats in the back half of the 'overflow'. My daughter observed that this was a meeting for a women's association and was surprised at the substantial male turn-out. I reserved my comments.

b)We were accosted by ear-deafening 'boos' and jeers as we passed the section, but realised that they were not directed at us as much as at the speaker onstage. We were quite unable to hear the opening speech being given by Ms Josie Lau, then President of AWARE, as the heckling went on unabated in tenor and base. In fact, the aggression was so vehement that my daughter was in tears from the sense of intimidation and oppression, even though the hooliganism was not directed at us.

c) It could be clearly observed that a number of men in the front of the section were attired in white 'We are AWARE' t-shirts or pink tops.

d)There were also more than 20 foreign men and women in their midst.

e)Then as the meeting progressed, more than half of them moved to stand with and around the 'old guard' of AWARE, and at the floor speakers' area, continuing to disrupt the proceedings despite calls for order.

e) What really flabbergasted us was that soon some of these associate members with no voting rights took the stand to proudly declare their homosexual status to loud applause from the 'old guard' camp as they spoke in support of the Comprehensive Sexuality Education programme. In fact, it was impossible for ordinary members like me to try to ask any questions on the floor (as I tried to queue up to do so) as the 'old guard' with half of them men effectively 'barricading' the area and monopolising the microphones in a raucous commotion.

We came away from the whole event rather disillusioned by AWARE and what it professed to stand for. They may still be helping women, marginalised or needy, but they are also involved in the political agenda of some minority groups, even with covert foreign interference.

2) I'm also surprised and deeply troubled that the reporting in The Straits Times has not been honest in presenting the full picture to the public, especially concerned parents following the AWARE saga. There was a concerted effort by both the press and TV coverage not to mention the significant presence of the homosexual community. If I had not been there, I would never have known the truth.

a) In fact, I witnessed the main reporter responsible for blowing up the whole AWARE story (Wong Kim Hoh) hobnobbing with the homosexual fraternity at the EGM.

b) Some members of the press and TV were candidly jubilant as they celebrated the passing of the 'no confidence' vote by punching their fists in the air and hugging the 'old guard' they were standing with.

c) In the sweep of fervent support, the constitutional amendments were also made to allow men and foreign

women full voting rights (in a local women's association that makes the CEDAW report on the state of women in Singapore). In the perspective that such an amendment was thrown out in the previous AGM, the motives may be called into question. The press made no mention of this important development.

I question the cover-up in the press.

In review of newspaper coverage of AWARE developments, I'm also beginning to think that press focus on the sensitive issue of religious involvement was but a calculated red herring thrown out to manipulate public sentiments.

Sir, I am pleading for the authorities to look into this matter as I am becoming increasingly alarmed that minority groups with a political agenda may not have just reached its grasp into a vulnerable women's group, and through it attempt to distort our children's views on sexuality, but has actually infiltrated the press to block out news and prevent the public from accessing the truth. I actually feel frightened that the press in Singapore can attempt to shape my views as it wishes by misinformation or partial information.


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